"Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to play Indian Wells, Miami, and all the Grand Slams," said Ramkumar Ramanathan. "And I’m slowly playing these tournaments and my next call will be to make the main draw of these tournaments."
Ramkumar, who left home at 15 to pursue tennis, lives the grind of an ATP qualifier. But no matter the result or the outcome, he always loves being out on the court.
Ramkumar hasn't been home since March, but coming here and playing at Indian Wells, its the closest he'll get. Because when he leaves the grounds, he walks into the McIntosh household, where he is another member of the family.
"I stay with Owen and Lisa. I’ve been staying with them for three years," said Ramkumar. "They are wonderful hosts and I feel comfortable. You know being on the road we always stay in hotels most of the time. So it's always good to be back and stay with the family. It's good energy."
"He’s like a family member for us, he knows my kids. He gets along with everybody. Comes in and comes out whenever he wants to. And whatever I can do to help him, pick up balls," said Owen McIntosh. "We love the guy."
Owen and Lisa McIntosh have been hosting Ramkumar during Indian Wells for the past three years. But due to Covid and last year's tournament cancellation, they are both happy to be back in the desert together.
"We had a great time, we didn't see him all that much because he was gone when we were gone but we would meet at the end of the day," said Lisa. "Such a pleasant boy never asked for anything."
Although their schedules don’t always match up, it’s the times they are together that ignite that special bond.
"I’m gone in the morning and come back in the evening. Then we have a chat in the evening sometime," said Ramkumar. "I feel comfortable and that’s why I keep coming back."
Owen and Lisa said with how much time and tennis they have spent together, they always look forward to having Ram visit them.
"He's like another son to me quite frankly. And the way he interacts with my kids, they are very close and my wife adores him. It's just a positive for everybody," said Owen.